The City of Gulf Shores, AL, is currently in the final stages of FEMA approval for replacing the sand lost to Hurricanes Nate and Sally.
“For those who have visited our beaches lately, you may have noticed a decrease in the width of our beautiful shoreline. This is due to the impact recent hurricanes and tropical weather events have had on our beaches,” the local authorities said in a statement. “In order to get our shoreline back to the width we all enjoy, the process of beach restoration, also known as beach nourishment, must take place.”
Beach restoration is the process in which sand is collected from an offshore location by a dredge, piped onto the beach, and moved into place by a bulldozer, resulting in a wider, higher beach.
Due to the city’s initial investment to construct an engineered beach system in 2004, and the continued maintenance of the engineered beaches and dune systems, beach restoration is recognized by FEMA as a reimbursable expense should these beaches be damaged by a declared disaster.
In 2017, after Hurricane Nate, the City of Gulf Shores began the permitting process with FEMA to begin the beach restoration process and return their engineered beaches back to the pre-hurricane condition. However, before beach restoration work could begin, the beaches sustained additional sand loss from Hurricane Sally.
One of the last permit obligations to FEMA is to provide a Cultural Resources Assessment Survey. At the March 28 City Council Meeting, Gulf Shores Mayor and City Council approved Task Order 2022-02 from Olsen Associates, Inc. to perform the necessary Cultural Resources Assessment Survey for work related to Hurricane Nate and Hurricane Sally engineered beach losses.
Once the survey is complete and the permit is approved, offshore dredging and placement of sand onto the beaches is anticipated to begin this winter and will be complete by the spring of 2023.